In defence of I (and the Polo mint)

poloOnce in a while I encourage my management students to write in the first person (ie with plenty of ‘I’ and ‘me’). They often react as if I have asked them to commit some dreadful academic crime – for not being objective. Coming from a scientific background I do have some sympathy with the search of objectivity and disguising our own involvement, but not entirely. When we write about experience, for example our role in a project, in not speaking of the ‘I’ is akin to a Polo mint – with a gaping hole just at the most interesting part. I want to know that they have recognised their own learning and to speak of their creative unsettlement as they got to grips with something new. That they now know and understand their process of learning in a reflexive way that will be helpful to them in the future. But it cannot be all ‘me’ and ‘I’, that would be a crime as serious as a mindless search for objectivity. I am interested in how they build bridges between their experiences and how others see the issue, for example, in the academic or professional literature; and it is from this that something interesting and relevant can develop that we can all learn from.

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